OTW #515: Phoria

Post-rock-rooted ethereal pop...
Phoria by Neil Bedford

“We like chaos and disorder, and space and calm, and not much in between,” claims Jeb Hardwick, Phoria’s bass player.

The Brighton-based act’s fondness of calm was a bonding factor for the group in its early years. Jeb explains how he, Trewin Howard (vocals), and Ed Sanderson (keyboards) grew up surrounded by open fields near Salibury, and gained “a lot of influences from hanging around and getting stoned, and just taking guitars out to the middle of nowhere.”

Once out of their teens, the trio partially fulfilled its desire for chaos by moving to the city. It was in the relative hustle and bustle of Southampton, where they headed for university, that the three met guitarist Tim Douglas. After graduating, they all moved to Brighton and, with the addition of Seryn Burden on drums, formed Phoria.

The band’s passions, however, are immersed in a deeper contrast than the transition from the cultivated semi-isolation of the countryside to medium-sized southern English cities.

Extreme desolation entices them – “We would really love to play Iceland,” says Seb – as much as urban intensity: “Tokyo is the other place I would really like to play.”

Musically, they are drawn towards bands that are the sonic reflection of their favourite geographical landscapes. In a conversation about Iceland, Jeb reveals: “Sigur Rós I can listen to, quite happily.”

Tim explains how Aphex Twin has helped to influence his guitar work, too. “The way he does it is so organic. It made me want to approach [guitar playing] in a mental way. I think that’s shared, the ‘nuts’ factor in approaching an instrument.”

Taking as it does elements of polarised musical worlds, calm and chaos in equal measures, one can easily imagine Phoria’s music filling an epic empty space within the cacophony of a city centre. Or, perhaps, somewhere like Battersea Power Station. Chances are they could light it up to be seen, and heard, from miles around.

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Where: Brighton

What: Ethereal vocal-led pop with heavy post-rock roots

Get 3 Songs: ‘Red’, ‘Posture’, ‘Scopes’

Unique Fact: In his spare time, Tim writes existensial short stories about obsurd sexual practices.

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Words: Cai Trefor

Photo: Neil Bedford

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